HK democracy leaders convicted in Umbrella Movement trial
HONG KONG: A group of Hong Kong activists face jail after being convicted yesterday on colonial-era "public nuisance" charges for their role in organising mass pro-democracy protests that paralysed the city for months and infuriated Beijing.
The convictions followed a trial that has renewed alarm over shrinking freedoms under an assertive China which has rejected demands by Hong Kongers asking for a greater say in how the financial hub is run.
Nine activists were all convicted yesterday of at least one charge over their participation in the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests, which called for free elections for the city's leader.
Among the most prominent members of the group on trial were sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 60, law professor Benny Tai, 54, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 75. All now face the prospect of jail.
The trio founded the pro-democracy "Occupy Central" movement in 2013, which joined the student-led Umbrella Movement a year later that brought parts of the city to a standstill for months.
Before their conviction the nine defendants struck a note of defiance as they greeted a large crowd of cheering supporters outside the courthouse in Hong Kong's Kowloon district yesterday morning.
"No matter what happens today, I have the confidence many people today will be together and continue to strive for Hong Kong democracy. We will persist and do not give up," Tai said.
"I still believe in the power of love and peace. I have no regret for what I have done," Chan added.
All three were found guilty of conspiracy to commit public nuisance.
Of the remaining six defendants - a group of younger protest leaders, including two sitting lawmakers - all were convicted of at least one public nuisance charge.
Each protest leader could now face up to seven years in jail. - AFP
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